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Immunology. 2014 Oct;143(2):155-63. doi: 10.1111/imm.12297.

Mast cells are activated by Staphylococcus aureus in vitro but do not influence the outcome of intraperitoneal S. aureus infection in vivo.

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Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.


Staphylococcus aureus is a major pathogen that can cause a broad spectrum of serious infections including skin infections, pneumonia and sepsis. Peritoneal mast cells have been implicated in the host response towards various bacterial insults and to provide mechanistic insight into the role of mast cells in intraperitoneal bacterial infection we here studied the global effects of S. aureus on mast cell gene expression. After co-culture of peritoneal mast cells with live S. aureus we found by gene array analysis that they up-regulate a number of genes. Many of these corresponded to pro-inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-3, interleukin-13 and tumour necrosis factor-α. The cytokine induction in response to S. aureus was confirmed by ELISA. To study the role of peritoneal mast cells during in vivo infection with S. aureus we used newly developed Mcpt5-Cre(+) × R-DTA mice in which mast cell deficiency is independent of c-Kit. This is in contrast to previous studies in which an impact of mast cells on bacterial infection has been proposed based on the use of mice whose mast cell deficiency is a consequence of defective c-Kit signalling. Staphylococcus aureus was injected intraperitoneally into mast-cell-deficient Mcpt5-Cre(+) × R-DTA mice using littermate mast-cell-sufficient mice as controls. We did not observe any difference between mast-cell-deficient and control mice with regard to weight loss, bacterial clearance, inflammation or cytokine production. We conclude that, despite peritoneal mast cells being activated by S. aureus in vitro, they do not influence the in vivo manifestations of intraperitoneal S. aureus infection.


Staphylococcus aureus; bacterial infection; inflammation; mast cells

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